If the CIA and US foreign policy schemers were behind the Ukrainian revolution more than a year ago, they have been remarkably passive about securing their gains since then. The US would clearly like Ukraine in the Western orbit: if not as a member of the European Union and NATO, then relatively integrated with them. Putin will do whatever is required to prevent that. Taking territory and placing military forces to hold that territory, wherever he can, has worked well so far.

At one point last summer, Putin observed, “I could be in Kiev in two weeks.” If he wanted unleash all of Russia’s military strength, I have no doubt that he could. Obviously he would like to achieve as much as he can in Ukraine, with as little warfare as posslble. The strategy has worked; nevertheless, the amount of warfare in the eastern part of the country has been substantial. Credit goes to the Ukrainian forces for standing up as well as they have. They need more armaments, and they won’t get them from the United States.

The big question is why Angela Merkel has not stood up to Putin. She knows Hollande, Cameron, and even Obama will back her if she does. The conventional thinking holds that Germany has too many economic ties to Moscow for that kind of confrontation. Whether for energy or for many other kinds of trade, the business people in Berlin and throughout Germany don’t want to sacrifice prosperity in order to protect a corrupt and struggling Ukraine, however important that nation may be in the West’s geostrategic calculations. So Germany tries to mediate, which by definition means you don’t resist an aggressor. It means you mollify the aggressive party in order to reach a deal.

The former prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, said that whatever else we do in Ukraine, we need to look ahead. We need to grasp what a new cold war means. We have managed to live with Russian aggression in Ukraine for a year now. Do we want to muddle along this way for another year or two, as this messy war unfolds? What you do not hear from Washington, or any other Western power center, is any vision of outcomes, or any discussion of intentions related to outcomes. Does the West have any aims at all here, other than to negotiate the next cease fire? Everyone wants to be stern with Putin; meantime he gobbles up more and more of Ukraine. No one can tell yet when he’ll be full. So far his grocery bill is pretty low.

So give it a go, Prime Minister Merkel, with more than business interests in mind. The West is looking to you. If Russia plays at war in eastern Europe indefinitely, the results will not be favorable for Germany, or for any other country in the West.

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